Pockets of Unionist resistance revealed in the Confederate south during Civil War

The United States’ Civil War is well known to have a strong division between the northern Unionists and the southern Confederates. But in reality, the two sides did have sympathy for one another. Many troops actually fought for the ‘other side’ in the conflict or declared themselves as neutral. Here are six examples of places in the south where Unionist backing was rife.

  1. Jones County, Mississippi

Many in Jones County, Mississippi were unhappy with the Confederacy and had fled there to desert the southern army. The tearaways formed a guerrilla Unionist group and did their best to harass Confederate troops in the area. They managed to disable the county government, but never managed to officially turn the county Unionist. They were eventually tracked downand driven out of the area.

  1. Scott County, Tennessee

Tennessee was the last state to remove itself from the Union via a vote in 1861. But in a small enclave known as Scott County, the citizens decided to vote for the Union. 95% of its residents voted to stay in the Union, which was also backed by Unionist Senator and future President Andrew Johnson. He said that most secessionists feared the free man in the south of the country, not the Unionists of the north.

Even though the rest of Tennessee voted to separate from the Union, Scott County rebelled and its legal courts ratified a resolution to create a State of Scott that would be independent from the rest of Tennessee.  Scott County remained its own sovereign area for 125 years. It wasn’t until 1986 that it once again became part of the state of Tennessee.

  1. Searcy County, Arkansas

Northern areas of Arkansas like Searcy County wanted to stay part of the Union. Several citizens of the county were arrested for their Unionist sentiment and organization called the Arkansas Peace Society. Being made to fight for the Confederates, many tried to escape north or hide out to avoid being called up. Searcy County had a large resistance and continued to harass the Confederate troops throughout the Civil War, the History Lists reports.

  1. Texas Hill Country

Only around 3% of troops from Texas fought for the North, while the rest fought for the Confederacy. However, historians believe more than a third of the state’spopulation supported the Union and south central Texas became home to serious Unionists. Many were German immigrants and refused to join the Confederacy. Many tried to flee to New Orleans but there were several bloody attacks that prevented them fleeing and some were even executed for being traitors.

  1. West Virginia

Virginia was well known to be a home of Confederacy, but it also had a small contingent of Unionists that rebelled. Virginia’s secession happened in 1861, but a group of Unionists stayed loyal to the Union and created a Restored Government of Virginia and elected a new governor. After a public vote West Virginia was a new state created as part of the Union.

  1. Winston County, Alabama

Pro-Unionists in Winston County, Alabama are said to have tried to create their own state as part of the Union. But it was never allowed to separate from its Confederate state. Many tried to avoid fighting with the Confederate Army by hiding in the wilderness, while others moved north so that they could fight for the Unionists.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE